View Full Version : Pastel Pencils vs Standard Pastels

06-08-2009, 04:57 PM
Hello everyone,

I am wondering why it seems most people use the standard soft pastels (ones that make your hands dirty) instead of pastel pencils? Does it have anything to do with color? I have seen a few images and it looks as though the stadard pastels produce a more vibrant color? Maybe I am wrong and maybe pastel pencils can do the same.

I personally like pastel pencils as they simulate pencils more (which is what I enjoy) but am I sacrificing color with pencils?



06-08-2009, 07:27 PM
Hi Irish,

speaking only for myself, I prefer sticks, dusty dirty sticks, as they give more colour 'punch', and allows me to *paint*. Filling an area with a hard pastel pencil would drive me nuts, as the 'lead' is waaaaay to small, and hard. (Besides, it is chiq to have permanently dirty finger-nails :-D ) My pencils are great for doing the 'skeleton drawing', as graphite won't hold pastels so it shows through, and charcoal (favo sketching medium) is too dirty.

But, there are artists who only paint with the pencils (gorgeous stuff), so each to their own.

I wash hands often, and creams and moisturisers a lot, as pastels dry out skin.


06-09-2009, 11:24 AM
:wave: Hi, Irish!

I agree with Charlie! You just need to "cover ground" and trying to do it with a little pencil would drive me nuts!:eek:

Where pastel pencils are really helpful is to put in certain little points, lines etc. that are hard to do with a stick! I have a set and use them when I need them.
But, pastel is just a dusty media! Make a little tray/box etc to go under your pastel paper to catch falling dust! You can wear gloves or finger cots if you want. I just get dusty! :D

So a search on the pastel forum to find threads on dealing with dust, masks, gloves, air-filters etc. if you are interested.

"Dust thou paint in pastel?" "Yes, I dust paint in pastel!":lol: :heart: :music:

06-09-2009, 12:34 PM
Do you two feel that the sticks bring out a more vibrant color compared to pencils? Can I get the vibrance out of pencils or are they just different?

Your paintings are very beautiful! I am very impressed. I am hoping to one day become a full time artist but am unsure if that is an unrealistic goal... Meaning, I understand that to become a full time artist, you gotta be good and you gotta be lucky.

06-09-2009, 03:17 PM
Pencils have more fillers in them, like clay. But then there are pastel sticks that are not so very vibrant. But usually, the high cost pastel stick brands are the densest in pigment, and the most brilliant.

Here is a pic of a patch from a painting, taken with the camera in macro setting:


In reality, the patch is this small: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Jun-2009/117343-UoRmini.jpg The yellow is a Unison on top of Rembrandts. You can see how the R blend into each other, while the U 'floats on top' of them, and how much light it reflects.

But, on the other hand, it is also a question of how you use your colours. Somebody here on WC jokingly asked me if I had a special set of Rembrandts with extra intense colour. The R are not the most intense sticks, no, but they blend well into neutralized colours.

There are pencils and pencils, too. I'm hoping one of the pastel pencil artists will chime in. Many of them are in the Animal and Wildlife forum.

I'm not a full time artist -- yet. Luck may certainly come into it, but usually it is a case of "the harder I work, the luckier I get". (Now who said that? Can't remember.) I'm learning how to market my art, how to speak of it confidently, and such things. I really started with pastels 2 years ago, and am beginning to get a grip of how the medium behaves. And I learned it all here on WC!


06-09-2009, 04:22 PM

I look at the WIPs on this site of people doing animals in pastel pencils and they are just beautiful. The fine detail in the hair is something that I could never attempt with sticks. But to me it is not painting; it's drawing. It requires a solid layout and a conformity to that "plan" that I don't think I could ever follow. It also requires infinite patience, something I possess in very small quantities. So while I admire the craft in the pastel pencil drawings I see here, when used as the only medium, I see them as a different medium than pastel sticks.

For me it is not a matter of color, as I have seen some pretty vibrant pastel pencil drawings here. It is a matter of painting vs. drawing. As you say you enjoy pencils then pastel pencils seem to be the perfect medium for your work.


06-09-2009, 04:26 PM
I use Pastel Pencils much more than I use Sticks.
I really love the detail work I can do with pastel pencils. It suets my temprament better to do details and lots of them. :)

I find that I can get really pure and beautiful colors with pastel pencils, and it's not that hard.

06-09-2009, 07:05 PM
Thank you all for your generous replies.

dbjs, what pastels and paper do you use?

I started using Canson paper and I recently bough color fix paper and have Gioconda, Derwent and Faber-Castell pencils.

06-09-2009, 07:28 PM
Hello Irish!!! you should look at all of dbjs's posts and threads!!! She does beautiful things with pencils!!!! fabulous things. She has demo's on Utube that are also amazing. Just wonderful work------so wonderful I felt I had to have some wonderful Derwent pencils---only the best!! I bought a 90 pencil set and it is beautiful-----but, I hardly ever use it!!! oh, for small things, or tight things---but I love my sticks!!! The Ludwigs and the Mt. Visisons are just the best!!!! Pencils are so hard I guess---odd to think about as I do graphite drawings alot---I mean , a lot!!! So I like pencils in fact love them---but when I want to paint I want to paint. I guess thats it---its personality. But I do love my Derwents----they are good on suede matboard along with the Nupastels which you can sharpen like a pencil. I guess what you paint on, what paper, and also how you want to do it must play a part in what you use. I was surprized---thought I would use my pencils more!!!!!!I alas, I am still exploring. The sanded papers would be hard on pencils, I love canson paper, but my sticks work so well on them.:clap: I love it all.

06-10-2009, 02:20 PM
The others have given you a pretty good impression of pencils vs. sticks already but allow me to throw in my two cents as well.

I don't work in pastel too often, I usually use graphite pencils, coloured pencils and various drawing pencils, so pastel pencils fit very well into my comfort zone, and I admit I don't like pastel sticks at all.

I like to work in small sizes and still want detail, and that's very hard to achieve with pastel sticks. If you want to work on a larger scale, pastel pencils can be very frustrating though.

Plus, I don't want to frame my works, so I have to use a certain amount of fixative, and I found that it can change the colour of pastels and makes them look dull - it doesn't do that to pastel pencils (I use Faber-Castell, other brands may or may not be different).

Pastel pencils are also a lot cleaner, but I know many people love the dust very much. :lol:

My best suggestion would be to try and use both, each on their own as well as a combination and then find out what you like best, or whether it depends on the size, subject,...

As for being a full-time artist - can't help you there I'm afraid, I'm not one and have no intention of becoming one. ;) Good luck with your plans though! :thumbsup:

06-11-2009, 07:41 AM
Thank you for those kind words IMaybe! :)

Irish 2417; I use mostly Derwent Pastel pencils, but sometimes I also use Faber-castel Pitt pastel pencils. I love my Derwent pencils and have so many that I have given up on counting them! hehe.

I use Hahnemühle velour paper for the most part. It goes really great with pastel pencils, but dosn't work well with the soft sticks. You can use the hard sticks on it and get a great result.
Most people seem to find the velour paper very hard to use, but I really love it. For pets and portraits, there's no other paper for me. :)

I sometimes use Colorfix paper or Art Spectrum as it's also called. I can use the soft sticks on it an get great results, but not many details. Or should I say, not as many details as on velour :lol:

I hope this can help you to deside what to do. :)

And sorry for the late reply, I've been really buisy and forgot to check the thread.

06-11-2009, 08:00 AM
I am still trying to get used to pastels and I have both...I feel that a more painterly effect is acheived with the sticks...if you want a lot of detail then the pencils work for that or in a painting done with the sticks you can add more detail where needed with the pencils.